A Workers Story #2

In ancient times, known as BC (Before Corona) we at Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement (AWSM) put a call out for workers to share their personal stories about difficulties they have or are experiencing at work. We had positive feedback and began with the story of an educator in Southland .https://awsm.nz/?p=4390. Here is the second contribution to the series by Richard, a worker in Wellington

Submitted by LAMA on July 8, 2020

I work in a charitable trust in Wellington, largely funded by central government, with other funding coming from Lotteries NZ and a few other organisations. The main problem we have faced in recent years (as I see it) is the increasing role of human resources staff, and their need to create a mandate for themselves. This invariably results in increases in KPI-type reporting and goal-setting (beyond the scope of contractual agreements), as well as occasional bursts of ‘engagement surveying’ and resulting time-wasting workshops. The first time we had a major ‘engagement survey’ process, the result was a new CE, restructure (with job losses), endless HR staff turnover, and eventually another negative engagement survey, at which point they stopped doing them!

The other result of this increase in executive management is a constant state of flux created by management staff constantly adjusting existing practices and workflows to try and make them more efficient, to the point of losing efficiency. Also these HR staff generally know nothing about the kind of work we do as an organisation, yet are among the highest paid members of staff. Their pay is only overshadowed by the CE who hires them all, in an attempt to enact sweeping organisational change, the KPI on which their own work is judged. The expense of this glut of HR staff is invariably at the cost of frontline work, and impacts the organisations ability to hire staff that perform core functions. It seems that this sector is dominated by career executives who take on charitable trusts as projects to turn inside-out in order to improve their resumes, as a stepping stone to bigger things. So they swoop in, turn everything upside down, and fire some people, before moving onto greener pastures and leaving the clean-up to those who remain.

The problems I describe here have been mitigated somewhat with the recent change of CE, but the nature of these problems are doubtlessly familiar to those in other charitable organisations.

Hope this is helpful!